poemimage

Where text meets image. Where the visual intersects the literary.

Heroes

Heroes in a time of heroes

Return Now to the wild.

I juxtaposed an image from The Book of Kells with a photo found online showing friends or neighbours (or actors) eating dinner on TV trays in front of a television ‘set.’

My father told me once our family had the first television ‘set’ on the block. Yet still my parents and the neighbours, in the new subdivision built on chewed-up farmland, socialized on the street, in lawn chairs, late on summer nights beneath the stars (no glare of streetlights yet). Ice cubes, shaken from metal trays cracked open with a handle, floated in iced coffee served in metal drinking glasses. Sometimes my mother would call me to empty the glass ashtray. Glass and metal and dark. They remembered something about then.

Then felt closer to in the beginning.

Originally this post contained an oblique rhyming poem I edited, in real time throughout the day, down to two lines (above). This is writing to go with the images. It’s not a ‘received’ poem.

Violaine my prism-eyed darling

Golden-robed & ink-wash thin

Walk me deep into that winding forest

Bind my heart as it shudders and spins.

True love, true love, I whisper

As eagles on stallions arrive

No need to rescue me fierce-creatures-of-fire 

Violaine heaving inhales – preparing to dive.

Moonlight on dark waters 

Blood surging in golden beehives

The winding forest blown over 

As eagles on stallions arrive.

Violaine your fingers crooked

One silver nail broken in clay

True love, true love, I whisper

Coffee cooling on my TV tray.

In Now rescue me fierce-creatures-of-fire

In Now touch that dial

Heroes in a time of heroes

Return Now to the wild.

Water flowing across me washes

This recalcitrant heart in my bones

Maybe we’ll meet in Heaven though I am a sinner

For another TV dinner.

Humanity

His voice reminds me of William Blake’s poetry about children,

or sacrifice in a dark ocean storm, or a sunflower standing against the wind.

Like Guernica or a battlefield nurse

or Christ when they came for him in the garden.

Good father may your telluric chant

be blessed with the speed & power of a thousand

shooting stars.

Double-Sided Images for ‘Book’ in Progress

The double-sided pages are numerous sheets of paper laced together. I soak the papers & they dry warped and crinkly. Eventually all the pages (more to come, some with text) will be attached and ‘foldable’ with a back and front cover. Sort of a very loose idea of an accordion book.

It’s All Too Beautiful

Across the years I return again and again to hear The Small Faces sing Itchykoo Park. It all seems such a dream. Steve Marriott’s pleasure and Ronnie Laine’s pleasure and their back and forth expressions. Their Carnaby Street fashions.

I argue with myself and contrast realities. The rebellious joy in Itchykoo Park juxtaposed with Joos de Momper the Younger documenting great Babel. Soon to crumble. Soon to fall.

The laboratories & the madness of Babel. Soon to crumble. Soon to fall.

No Wonder My Hand Looks Old

I took photos this summer of flowers. They looked like flying bees. Or bee-like entities.

Sitting outside in a cafe patio this past weekend with my Hypnogogia Book 1 & Book 2 drawing collective buddies Charles and Marc I touched a tickle on my knuckle. Then a yellow jacket bit me. I think he bit me and stung me. Didn’t feel bad at first. At three in the morning I woke up with a swollen hand filled with pulsing needle-like pain.

Made a paste with baking soda. Soothing. The paste was dried in the morning on the plastic lid like terrain on a fragile planet. The powdery planet or maybe the paste planet.

My hand puffed-up like a blow fish. From one little bite! Or sting! Or both. What shocked me the most was how old my hand looked. How both hands looked old. The bigger and the lesser. In other news Bob Dylan is 80.

Last night I watched one of those ‘reaction’ videos. Younger people react to older songs. One guy loved Dylan singing One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below) in Rolling Thunder Revue.

Dylan brought his Rolling Thunder Revue to Toronto Dec. 1 & 2, 1975. One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below) is on the playlist both nights. I don’t remember which of the two nights I went. It was a long time ago. No wonder my hand looks old.

Watch here

When I was a boy in the Missouri Ozarks I disturbed a yellow jackets’ mansion down some secret hole in the dirt. They attacked. At that moment the mailman walked up and said, ‘You’re not going to let those little things bother you are you?’

Well, yes.

I remember amber-coloured sorghum syrup in a tin gallon can. Maybe aluminum. I remember tapping down the lid. We spread sorghum on bread and poured it over pancakes. Sorghum likes to grow in thin clay soil. Missouri has a lot of thin clay soil. When they boil down the grain for syrup it’s called ‘the long sweetening.’

I said this to myself right now in the cadence of the voices I heard as a boy. The long sweetening. Sounds like a phrase from long, long ago. No wonder my hand looks old.

One Thing Leads to Another

When I created the ‘wordless poem’ Never More Together (120 linocut prints – The Porcupine’s Quill) in 2014 I sometimes needed to answer questions like, ‘How is this a poem?’

So I wrote the poem Meditations on a Wordless Poem. In earlier versions I related it to the silent process of carving in lino and creating non-linear poetry via images. I recall describing how I warmed lino under a hot lamp (during a heat wave!) so it would be easier to carve. In the poem found below I abandoned such descriptions, focusing more on the metaphysical. One thing leads to another.

In 2020 Konrad Skreta and I co-directed a 32:28 poetry/art (animation) video based on this poem. Because of Covid, and disruptions, or so I tell myself, I am just now getting around to submitting the video (titled Ode to a Wordless Poem) to festivals.

I watched it again today. Konrad embellished my poetry and images (text-art & visual poetry) by composing ever-shifting & evocative geometric and organic designs. & Within a landscape of psyche, perception and shadow the music too, as well as Konrad’s soundscape, is hypnotic. One thing leads to another.

Meditations on a Wordless Poem

The poem is an image & the image is a poem

Poem is an image passing through the body.

Image contains the rhythmic incantation of voice manipulating shapes

And visual balance –

Image passes into and through the body, embracing rhythmic incantations.

The alchemy of poetry transfigures a blank page into a sequence

Of comprehension –

A sequence of psychic incantation configures the blank page.

The process of transfiguring dross and creating gold

Is recorded two-dimensionally –

A sequence of shapes and visual balance enter your body as

Two-dimensional alchemy.

Symbols meet texture in a relationship spanning theory and time.

Theory and time, in place of words, pass through your body.

Epic poetry resembles line and movement

An ancient voice extends invisible realities into song

Songs of prehistory rush forward, intersecting with our surveillance state.

A visual poem is like a city

As the lights go off, a new sound emerges of all that has gone before

Missing words, animals, plants and civilizations are replaced

Epic poetry rushes forward containing new information.

Poetry, pulsing, aims within a sequence of images

Invisible line responds, summoning persona, questing,

Transmitting erotic signals

Light hollows any false reflection

New information transmits erotic signals

The lights in a city fade

Street by street.

As the image is read the pulse of the work transfigures

Surrealism speaks of fragrance and desire

Alchemy embodies fragrance

The alchemical poem juxtaposes human need and the impossible

Human desire interfaces with the surveillance state

The white of the page recorded two-dimensionally

The fragrance of light a dreaming of desire.

Subconscious language is dream entwining both image and word within

Phenomena as natural as the elements.

Original idea & mind entwine both image and dream

Negative space surrounds the image suggesting a missing fragment of verse.

Ecology and psyche blur in the composition of the wordless poem

Suggesting a missing fragment of verse.

The alchemical juxtaposes with the social.

Missing plants and animals pass through your body, a type of social architecture

A type of shorthand evolves, culturally recognized as poetry.

Stanzas and passages translate visually within atmospheres of memory.

Images float in a psychic space of precognition.

Pictograms evolve in the composition of the wordless poem, as ecology and psyche blur.

The fragrance of light is an image passing through your body &

Recognized culturally, in social architecture, as a poem.

Blink your eyes while you turn the page in torchlight & you realize

You are within early cinema.

Bird Vision

I did this painting titled ‘Bird Vision’ this summer on a large sheet of mid-weight mixed-media paper. I liked the paper’s softness. I tacked it to a piece of plywood resting that on my easel. Then just started. The artist Marc Cohen described it as ‘Neo-Neolithic with a touch of Fauve.’

GIF Experiments: 27 (Run For The Exit)

My (old) Photoshop 5 program became impossible to work with. Some issue with ‘scratch discs.’ So I worked on a 33′ X 5′ roll of Italian paper for a few weeks and developed some writing ideas.

Then I remembered my blog (!) and made this GIF circumventing the ‘scratch-disc’ issue with a simpler arrangement of frames.

GIF Experiments: 25 (Exploring Five Lines from Lyon by Pierre L’Abbe)

In the traboules of the Croix-Rousse
the shuffling silk weaver
the bile of vertigo rising in his throat moves left
in the stairwell only the balls of his feet
on narrow circular steps

(from Lyon, Pierre L’Abbé)

Pierre L’Abbé is a poet and fiction writer, he recently translated Palestine, a novel by Hubert Haddad.